Back to School on the Cheap

>> Thursday, August 13, 2009

Back to school is an exciting time for everyone, but it can also be rushed and chaotic if you don't plan ahead a bit.

There are many things you will need to purchase.

Here is a list of things you might need and how to save BIG on them:

Clothes and Shoes

  • online coupon codes, clearance-Repeat after me: "I will never buy anything online without first searching for a coupon code." Coupon codes can, at the very least, save you shipping and may even get you a dollar or percentage off, even on items already on clearance.
  • Speaking of clearance, always be thinking ahead to the next 2 months and the next year. Things that are on clearance now, include summer clothes , which, in many parts of the country can be used for the next 2 months. So, buy some things in your kid's current sizes. But also buy a few things in your kid's next sizes for next summer. I especially buy shoes this way as it is hard to find used shoes anywhere.
  • name brands/trendy styles-That trendy part of me from high school still loves name brands. However, I now only buy them on clearance or if I really must have it, on sale with a coupon code. Now, for my kids, I generally stay away from name brands because they outgrow things before they wear out. However, when that ceases to be true, I will shop around for name brands and ALWAYS use a coupon code. For the trendy kids, I will probably a few anchor pieces in my kid's wardrobe to be name brands/trendy and supplement with store house brands and basic items like jeans and black T-shirts.
  • hand me downs-I love hand me downs!! Try to find someone with kid's slightly older than yours. Let them know you'd love to take outgrown clothes off their hands, whenever they are ready. Many times people really would like to find a good home for their kid's outgrown clothes, instead of donating them.
  • goodwill/thrift/garage sales-Always a great place to find deals on kid's clothes and sometimes shoes. Generally, goodwill stores have a high turnover rate of clothes. Talk to the manager at your local store and s/he can tell you when they put out the most new goods. Same is true with local thrift stores. Garage Sales can be hit or miss, but to minimize time wasted, check the paper and go for anything marked "kid's stuff".

  • Shop around. And around. And around. Many places are having back to school sales and there are good deals out there.
  • Avoid "character" backpacks. They are generally smaller and not as well made. Also there is no guarantee your darling will still like Dora next year.
  • Make sure the style and options will be usable in the future. For example, for a kindergartner, buy a backpack with the lunch box as they will probably need it next year.

School supplies

  • First thing, check the dollar store for school supplies, you may be able to get a lot of what you need there.
  • Buy school supplies in bulk whenever possible. I would even go in with a neighbor or friend, if possible.
  • If you can wait until the September-October school supply clearance sales, wait.
  • Don't forget to hit drug store sales for back to school supplies; they usually have great deals and good coupons, too.
  • Search the Internet for printable back to school coupons, you may discover a few great deals on things that are already on sale now.

Communication can save you BIG

  • Contact the school(s) to see if the kids need anything special for gym class, art class, etc., so you are not caught off guard when your little one tells you she needs an art smock "tomorrow" when it's 9pm.
  • Many schools will sell you a complete package of back to school supplies for a flat rate. This may be a good deal and will start your child off with the same exact supplies everyone else has. Believe it or not, this is a big deal to some kids. In addition, the price of the supplies may benefit your local PTA, which is a great cause.

  • Yikes! Try not to freak out when you see the prices of some of things your kids need. Instead, calmly compare the sales online to save time. You will find some deals, especially if you educate yourself about memory and processor speed. The same is true for cell phones and cameras.
  • Consider buying refurbished with a guarantee. This may be a great way to save money, especially since electronic items frequently become obsolete so quickly.
  • If you have good credit, 0% interest deals may work for you.
  • Try buying used from a smaller computer store.
  • It's amazing to me what they will charge for a kid's haircut! However, have no fear, coupons are everywhere this time of year.
  • The cheapest way is to cut the hair yourself. There are instructions for boys haircuts when you buy a buzzer/trimmer.
  • For girls, try learning how to give a layered haircut and how to trim bangs. You'll save a fortune!
  • Another option is to find a good stylist who will do haircuts for your family and friends at home. Many times, they will charge a fraction of their regular price if you supply the location. They may even be able to give you those highlights you've always wanted on the cheap!

General Tips

  • If you can be disciplined, get a few department store credit cards. The bigger stores usually run special sales, including cash back sales, for their credit card holders. But in order to feel the savings, you must pay it off completely each month.
  • Only buy what you went in the store for!! Do not succumb to in-store marketing unless it is a major deal, or you will undo any savings you just got.
  • Try things on you and your kids in the store, if possible. Many people get home with something only to find it doesn't fit or is damaged in some way. Those items may or may not ever get returned. Learn from me: I have actually had to tear tags off clothing before donating it. Though I did get a tax break for the donation, I still came out behind.

I hope you have found some good ideas here at your nontoxic life to save money on back to school. I'd also love to hear your best tips on saving at this time of year! Please comment below!


Hot Deals October 13, 2009 at 11:41 PM  

saving for school products is really good, because we have expeance so many on school products, it damage our monthly budget, so i got oppunities to save on school products, i must that oppunities.